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Matthew 16:21

The Plan

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Now that the disciples
were fully aware of the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, it was time to teach them the truth about His mission. Jesus had often dropped hints about His coming death, but now it was time to prepare them for it. They were only six to nine months away from the crucifixion and were still weak in their understanding of what was about to happen.

There are many today who do not believe that Jesus intended to die on the cross. They argue the case that men were usually tied to the cross, and that He never expected to be nailed to it; that He intended for His disciples to give Him a drug, while on the cross, which would make Him appear to have died; and that they planned to take Him and place Him in the tomb so that, when He regained consciousness, He would appear to have risen from the dead. Some say that Jesus' death was an accident, while others say that He succeeded with His fraud, even in spite of the nails. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Jesus taught them the divine inevitability of four coming events. His death and burial were part of the plans made by Him and His Father before the earth was created. (Ephesians 1:3-12; 1 Peter 1:19-20) "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

He taught them that He must first go to Jerusalem. It was in the Holy City, the center of rabbinical Judaism, and the heart of religious legalism, that Jesus would die for our sins and lift the burdens of the law from our shoulders. His death and resurrection would not be in secret, but right there in Jerusalem for all of the people and their religious experts to witness.

Secondly, He explained to them that His enemies would become violent. The term "elders" was usually used for the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of seventy-one lawyers, elders, and priests. The high priest was usually the president. Thus the elders, chief priests, and scribes constituted the whole of the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem. These religious leaders would cause the suffering of Jesus.

He must be killed. If the disciples had ever struggled with the idea of a suffering Messiah, they were now going to have to face the truth. God had ordained that Jesus should die for the sins of His people and there was no alternative solution.

Lastly, Jesus would be raised again on the third day. Without the resurrection there would be no hope for the rest of us. If Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, what good would it do us in the grave? Paul wrote, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable... If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die." (1 Corinthians 15:14-19,32)

God's love for His people was so strong that He planned their redemption by the suffering, death, and resurrection of his own Son before their creation. This marvelous work of redemption is continued today as God calls His people out of the world and into his kingdom. Each of us has the opportunity to participate in this plan, even today, by sharing the good news with others.

Before The Throne:

Thank the Lord for His sacrificial love. Praise Him for including you in His redemptive plan and pray about your role in it. Pray for your friends and family members who do not believe. Ask the Lord to open their eyes to the truth and to soften their hearts so that they can respond to His love.

For Further Study:

** began. Matt 17:22-23; Matt 20:17-19, 28; Matt 26:2; Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31-32; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 9:22, 31, 44-45; Luke 18:31-34; Luke 24:6-7, 26-27, 46; 1Cor 15:3-4; ** chief priests. Matt 26:47; Matt 27:12; 1Chr 24:1-19; Neh 12:7; ** and be. Matt 27:63; John 2:19-21; Acts 2:23-32;


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